ALPENA -To give up their life to serve and protect is the ultimate sacrifice a person can give. There are holidays dedicated to war heroes, but there are other men and women in uniform who also put their lives on the line each and every time they go to work - law enforcement and firefighters. On Wednesday there is a special event to recognize the fallen heroes who have connections to the area and to the state.
The event, Project Blue Light, consists of a memorial service where blue candles are lit and held by a local member of police and fire departments or a surviving family member of the fallen.
Event Coordinator Gloria Egelski said the nationwide event began in 1986. She said she wanted to take part in remembering the heroes after her son Bryan Egelski lost his life while on duty for the Michigan State Police. She said it is important to remember the heroes who gave their lives to keep the public safe, especially during the holiday season. She hopes for a good turnout at the Aplex on Saturday and hopes even more people put a blue Christmas light on display at their homes and businesses to show their support of the police and firefighters.
"The event is to honor the fallen and those still on the streets," Egelski said. "Our master of ceremony this year is Alpena County Sheriff Steve Kieliszewski and we will have the honor guard there as well. Judge Mack will be one of the guest speakers and a retired officer from downstate. The event is very emotional. It is free to the public and the more the merrier. I also hope to see a lot of blue lights around the area as a tribute."
Kieliszewski said it is a privilege to take part in the event.
"It is always an honor to do this, especially this time of year," Kieliszewski said. "It is a privilege for me to be able to honor the fallen who have died in the line of duty. They have made the ultimate sacrifice and I can't even imagine the emotions the families feel when they lose a loved one from a crash or a shooting. You look at the names and how the deaths occurred and it is emotional for us as well."
The event begins at 7 p.m. at the APlex and is free of charge. There will be refreshments and snacks available.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.